Windows RT, Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro

New computing devices for the education sector

Published: 11 November 2012

Microsoft's new operating system marks the launch of a new touch centred user interface. The advent of the new operating system also marks the start of a period where we will see many new form factors such as touchscreen PCs and tablet devices. Schools will need to get familiar with some new terms to describe these new form factors such as tablets, transformers & convertibles and all-in-ones. Microsoft has also launched an app store but schools need to remember to take advantage of their education licences.

What is Windows RT?

Windows RT is one version of Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system. Windows RT hosts lite versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote that have been specifically designed and written to be hosted on the Windows RT platform. The processing power of the Windows Surface RT device will mean that schools need to be aware that their staff and students will not be able to use the same programs that they currently run on their existing PCs. The absence of common software titles that are used in schools such as Adobe Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Capita SIMS and others suggests that Windows RT devices will not form the main user device in a school setting. Microsoft have issued a list of sotware applications that come pre-installed on any Windows RT device and they include titles such as Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 RT Preview, (Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote); Windows Mail and Messaging; SkyDrive; Internet Explorer 10; Bing; Xbox Music, and Video. With its limited processing power and education software titles there are doubts about the suitablity of the Windows RT Surface device in schools.


Windows 8

What is Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro?

Windows 8 enables you to run software applications that you used on earlier versions of Windows. If your teaching staff or students do most of their computing on a desktop PC or a laptop they will still be able to use all your school's existing productivity applications. Schools will need to ensure that staff and students receive a short induction on the new user interface; especially on the start screen. Windows 8 Professional includes all the features of Windows 8 plus the ability to participate in a Windows server domain, remote desktop connections and group policy.

Windows 8 N editions

Microsoft have launched three Windows 8 N editions which have been designed to give users additional choice around the Windows 8 platform. The N editions of Windows 8 allow you to choose your own media player and software required to manage and play CDs, DVDs, and other digital media files.


This video from Microsoft describes the range of new hardware that will support the new Windows 8 software platform. If you work in the education sector you will be introduced to many new form factors or computing devices over the coming year. [1]

Click here for a sample of tablets, convertibles, laptops, desktops and all-in-ones. [2]

Whilst the new Windows user interface is designed for touch, schools will still be able to use the new operating system on existing hardware. If your school is purchasing new desktop PCs in the near future you will need to consider the merits and maintenance issues around a touchscreen monitor. The same is true if your school is about to purchase a new batch of laptops, tablets or convertibles. The new form factors will need to be carefully considered by schools prior to any purchase. Whilst consumer products such as Surface RT and Surface with Windows 8 Pro are suitable for home use, there use within a school setting will need further consideration by schools; especially around the support and maintenance of such devices.

The simplification of touch screen interfaces means that software is invariably limited in its uses. However, the option for teachers and students to use Windows 8 devices as traditional laptops makes them very attractive for schools; particularly when more productive software is required to support teaching and student led projects or assignments.


  1. Microsoft Windows 8 - A new era of devices:
  2. A new era of PCs: